It’s now abundantly clear that the Trump administration has planted and sown the seeds of its own destruction.
The evidence keeps mounting. There’s the billionaire-packed cabinet that Donald Trump assembled in betrayal of his populist campaign themes. There’s the petulant and lie-laden reactions by Trump and his aides to the protests against his policies, such as the White House’s rants against the record crowds at the Women’s Marches that erupted nationwide the day after his inauguration and the tantrum he threw as he fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Then there’s the rush of executive orders dictating policies for which he has no mandate, such as the immigration ban against refugees and all citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries that spurred legal chaos as hundreds of foreign travelers were ushered off airplanes or detained at U.S. airports this past weekend.
A few days after the astounding Women’s Marches, more than 10,000 people participated in over 200 peaceful #ResistTrumpTuesday rallies outside congressional offices, organized by MoveOn, the Working Families Party, Indivisible, and my own organization, People’s Action. On the first Tuesday, January 24, a reported 15,000 people showed up at events nationwide. These protests, coupled with the mobilizations seen at airports around the country following the immigration executive order, marked the beginning of a sustained and unprecedented mass resistance focused on the Trump administration and its agenda. We will keep the opposition coming.
On this second Tuesday of protests, we will make it manifestly clear the Trump agenda is not normal and we will not let it be normalized. Many of these events will focus on our demand that our cities and towns protect immigrants by declaring themselves “sanctuary cities” and refusing to comply with Trump’s executive orders that hurt our families and communities. We are calling on governors in particular to “join the resistance” against the immigration executive order.
A thin-skinned president, a nest of conflicts of interests and corruption, and edicts in defiance of majority opposition to his policies set the stage for political implosion. But we also know better than to take for granted that the behavior that has brought down previous politicians and administrations will automatically topple the Trump team.
Now, more than ever, the left must respond with a combination of persistence, intelligence and visibility.
We must keep up the pressure with actions in our hometowns that shine a bright light on lawmakers who refuse to resist Trump as he erases every progressive step forward in the last 70 years.
Trump will offer the public populist actions that appear to come from the progressive policy playbook. Be aware that any Trump infrastructure proposal will be destined to contain the poison pills of privatization, anti-worker provisions and weakened environmental protections. We must be vigilant.
The temptation will be great for Democrats in Congress to say, “Let’s work with Trump when we can.”
No. Trump needs to work with us, the American people – the majority who voted against him, as well as those who voted for him out of exasperation with an economy and democracy that failed them.
Fake economic populism
The forces that led to economic decline of blue-collar America, from Detroit factories to Southern fabric mills, have been long-term and are global, effects of the march of modernization and automation. The Trump administration, built on simplistic sloganeering, ideological extremism and corporate fawning, isn’t up to the task of providing significant relief for rural and small-town communities that turned to Trump in the election. But it was never really the intention. Trump’s fake economic populism is laying the groundwork for greater corporate control over our lives, and for replacing the war on poverty with a war on the poor.
In the coming weeks, Trump will keep up the myth that he’s working for the nation’s forgotten people, even as bankers and corporations foreclose on their homes, trap them in poverty with low-wage jobs, cut the safety net and step up pollution.
We have to emphasize our bright-line demands: jobs that pay living wages and offer paid sick leave; access to quality, affordable child care so that more parents may work; better public schools, not corporate schools serving our children mediocrity for profit; health care available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay; a nation where hate has no business.
Yes, the Trump train will derail. Our challenge for the next weeks and months is to gird for the derailment, minimize the damage and lift up a new way forward for the nation. The core values of all people are at the center of this fight and on those values we agree: We love our children, we treasure our communities, we demand the freedom to pursue our dreams and we will protect our planet from corporate desecration.
We will raise up leaders who share those values wherever they are found, especially in the communities that are hurting most. You have to help. Join an organization, even if you aren’t a joiner. Go to meetings. Participate in marches and rallies. Write letters to your local newspapers and your lawmakers. Be visible.
We, the people, hold the answers to our future and our prosperity. Let’s continue to resist, and prepare to reclaim and rebuild.